Emergency Vehicle Defensive Driving: 2013 Year in Review

2 January, 2014

The Emergency Vehicle Defensive Driving program ended 2013 strong with its final delivery of the year November 13-15. Students represented a diverse group of agencies from the NYC Department of Correction and NYC Department of Information Technology & Telecommunications to the NYS Office of People With Developmental Disabilities' Bureau of Emergency Services and Stony Brook University Medical Center.

As the cold weather sinks in and snow begins to cover the Emergency Vehicle Operations Track (EVOT) in Oriskany, the NCSP/SPTC team of Subject Matter Expert (SME) Instructors and staff are gearing up for a winter of development.

"We accomplished a lot this year," said Ben O'Shaughnessy, the NCSP/SPTC coordinator on the program. "One of our biggest challenges was figuring out how to best meet the needs of so many different emergency responders from different agencies, using a wide-range of vehicles."

For 2014, the program will include two courses delivered concurrently over three days: Emergency Vehicle Defensive Driving, for any responder; and Emergency Vehicle Defensive Driving for EMS, for EMTs, Paramedics, and other ambulance operators.

On the first day, students from each discipline participate in the same classroom-based discussion led by Subject Matter Expert Instructors. Discussions provide awareness about the hazards faced by all emergency responders, regardless of their discipline or what vehicle they operate. Instructors present best practices and safe driving techniques that apply universally to all responders.

On the second day, the two courses go their separate paths out on the EVOT. EMS students receive an additional 90 minutes of classroom-based discussion that includes patient-care considerations and medical technician safety in the back of the ambulance. The November delivery included for the first time new basic skill lanes for ambulances. At the end of each training day, students from the various agencies and disciplines return to the classroom to discuss "lessons-learned."

"Currently, many first responder agencies train separately," said James Neary, an NCSP/SPTC Subject Matter Expert Instructor. "During high stress incidents, such as an active disaster, we rely on our training. If we don't train together, we will be reluctant to work together."

Neary currently works as the Risk Manager for Rural/Metro EMS in Rochester and Corning, NY. With over 25 years in the emergency services, he has developed policies and drivers' safety training for Rural/Metro's operations nationwide. Neary joined the NCSP/SPTC team in June.

"I'm impressed that after each delivery, all the instructors and support staff meet to discuss what can be done to better the program and the student's experience."

-James Neary, NCSP/SPTC Subject Matter Expert

"The facility and the resources available [for EVDD] from knowledgeable and experienced instructors; very dedicated and committed administrative support staff; and the outstanding facility at Oriskany, allows for the best mix of classroom and behind-the-wheel time. More so than any other program," said Neary.

The involvement and dedication by Subject Matter Experts and Instructors such as Neary has been central to the success of the program.

"I just ended my 33-year career in NYS law enforcement, over half of them as a supervisor. My time was divided between field safety operations and training," said Stephen Rawson, an NCSP/SPTC Subject Matter Expert Instructor. "In finding out that emergency vehicle operations are the number one cause of injuries and death to our officers, and often [emergency vehicle accidents] involve civilians, my training focus turned towards various driver safety programs and investigations."

Rawson joined the NCSP/SPTC team in October 2012, serving as the lead SME-Instructor. He has over 40 years in public service. In addition to 33-years with the NYS Environmental Conservation Police, he continues to serve part-time as a deputy with the Oswego County Sheriff's Office. Over the years, he has developed and delivered emergency vehicle safety courses for numerous state agencies.

"When I get involved in any program, it has to have value for the instructor, the student, and provide a positive service to the general public," said Rawson. "The EVDD program exceeds these standards. It gives me a chance to share my training and field experience that I have had, which at times has been both positive and heart breaking."

"For me, when a student acknowledges that the instruction has helped them understand emergency driving and I get to see them improve their driving skills on the SPTC track, I know the program is successful," said Thomas Brady, NSCP/SPTC Subject Matter Expert Instructor and retired Utica Police officer. Brady has worked on the EVDD program since 2012. In addition, he works as an adjunct police instructor for Mohawk Valley CC and Cazenovia College. "I get great satisfaction knowing that my instruction may save a life or prevent serious injury out on the road, whether it is the first responder or the general public."

Numerous deliveries of EVDD and EVDD for EMS are being planned for 2014.

Interested agencies should contact the SPTC at or (315) 768-5689 for more information.